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Restoration project of the Sandra Mine in the T.M. from Manzanera (Teruel)

The mining plant known by the name of the Sandra mine, located in the Municipality of Manzanera (Teruel), is an open pit mine with a high visual and environmental impact.

The exploitation of this site has long since ended, but its impact on the soil, the ecology and the landscape persists. Once the evaluation of the current conditions has been carried out, it is intended to remedy this situation by treating the affected land, implanting appropriate forest plant species and improving the hydrological characteristics, thus recovering the lost ecological and scenic qualities.

The mining exploitation of this site is relatively recent, as the mineral extraction work began in the 1990s. In April 1997, the company Áridos Virgen del Pilar S.A. made the request for exploitation, which was granted in May of the following year. The permit was valid for 7 years (1998-2005), and authorized the exploitation of an area of 3.4 hectares in the area of "Los Barrancos". The material to be extracted would be ophite, from the Triassic. Once the authorized period expired, the Spanish cement company Emipesa S.A. it began to collect the gravel that had been extracted and stored, an activity that lasted until May 2012. Once that use was finished, the land was filled, leaving it in its current state.

The reason for the execution of the restoration is the return to natural conditions of an environment that has been degraded by human activity, thus producing a revitalization of the area. Apart from the deterioration suffered due to mining activities, we must add the degradation that the place will suffer due to inclement weather, which, when acting on bare ground and with steep slopes, will have a more severe effect. The vulnerability of the land is due to the technique used for exploitation, open pit mining, which presents strong impacts:

  • Visual: due to the wide area affected.

  • Edaphic: profound alteration of the soil structure.

  • Physiographic: modification of slopes and reliefs.

  • Hydrological: alteration of infiltration regimes and runoff patterns.

All this is also aggravated by the surrounding climate, corresponding to a continental Mediterranean climate, which presents heavy rainfall in autumn and winter and a very dry and hot summer, thus creating a great risk of erosion. To remedy the situation, it is necessary to implement a vegetation cover that protects the soil from rainfall, improves the infiltration of water into the soil and keeps the substrate cohesive.

The purpose of this project is the restoration of the Sandra Mine, understood as a return to conditions as similar as possible to the initial ones in terms of ecology, landscape quality and natural conditions.

During the mineral extraction activities, there was a severe alteration of the terrain and a total loss of vegetation cover, leaving the soil exposed and vulnerable to degradation. For this reason, the measures to reverse the situation must consist of earthworks to recover the physical geography (the minimum possible to reduce costs) and revegetation using appropriate species, which are integrated into the mosaic of natural vegetation already existing in the surroundings.

As an example of specific objectives to be met, the following stand out:

  • Control and minimization of soil erosion

  • Landscape integration of the degraded area in the environment

  • Recovery of ecological values of the area (hydrology, biodiversity...)

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